Having too little regard for Lewes MP’s achievements

Your correspondent Mike Richards’ letters seem to get more bizarre and contradictory by the week.

Despite his former protestations that he is a peripheral figure on the Conservative Party, having stood as a paper candidate once 12 years ago (under protest), he now sings the praises of a woman who two years ago was unknown to the Lewes electorate.

Perhaps Mr Richards can tell us why Ms Caulfield is a far better candidate to oppose our current MP Norman Baker than her two immediate predecessors Rory Love (2005) who is still on a substitute list of prospective Tory MEPs, or Jason Sugarman in 2010, who at least had the merit of.

Perhaps the truth lies in the fact that after Mr Sugarman’s defeat in 2010, despite being adopted in 2006 and lavishly promoted during the four subsequent years as prospective parliamentary candidate, the Conservatives held off adopting a candidate for 2015, though I understand the current leader of LDC Bob Blackman was in the frame.

They preferred instead to see what would be the new boundaries after the study by the Boundary Commission.

Both BC proposals split the historic Lewes seat up, one dumping the largest town in the constituency, Seaford, in with Uckfield while revised proposals incorporated the coastal strip into Brighton Kemptown, in both cases breaking historic ties with the county town.

When the Liberal Democrats failed to support the national boundary changes in time for 2015, it became necessary for the Conservatives to rapidly manufacture a plausible candidate for the existing seat at short notice and promote her as vociferously as possible before this May. This explains the frenetic bandwagon-mounting displayed by Ms Caulfield in recent months, including backing a scheme in Seaford to sell off historic town parkland for housing to finance a football stadium.

Mr Richards seems meanwhile rather loth to acknowledge Norman Baker’s achievements as an MP. Perhaps as a farmer he should appreciate Norman’s resolute objections to the loss of prime coastal grazing land at the Cuckmere Haven, which would have resulted from the aborted attempts by the Environment Agency to flood the Haven some 12 years ago by breaking down the canal walls, on the grounds that the sea itself would have completed the job by now (it hasn’t.)

Also Norman opposed the ludicrous proposal by South East Water to flood prime farming land at Clay Hill north-east of Lewes for a reservoir despite this area being old Wealden pasture and forest and of critical wildlife diversity. Again that iniquitous scheme has bit the dust.

Bob Brown